The many faces of alimony in the state of Florida

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Alimony plays a big role in divorce; it is usually awarded, though there are cases where it doesn’t happen (a prenuptial agreement can forbid it, for example). Known today as spousal support, the award of alimony is given to the spouse who is in a weaker financial state. In the past, this almost always meant that the woman in a divorce would receive alimony. Since the marriages of generations past had defined roles for each spouse — the man worked, the woman took care of the home — alimony was necessary in a divorce to help the woman out in the wake of the split.

While some marriages are still like this, many Florida couples share joint incomes. Both husband and wife have a job, and they both take care of the kids. They share their duties; their successes; their failures. So when these couples file for divorce, spousal support no longer means that the woman will get spousal support. It is a more fluid system that merely looks at which spouse needs the financial support, given that, without their spouse, they will be in a weak financial state.

Here in Florida, there are four different types of alimony: bridge-the-gap alimony (a short-term payment plan), rehabilitative alimony (payments that go towards re-education or skills acquisition for the receiving spouse), durational alimony (set amount of time for payments) and permanent periodic alimony (provides “necessities of life” granted during marriage to a divorced spouse). Alimony negotiations tend to be complicated — and given the numerous types of alimony, it behooves a divorcing spouse to be prepared for these discussions.

Eliza Coupe, one of the stars of the recently cancelled TV show “Happy Endings,” will need to be prepared after she and her husband — who is requesting alimony from her — filed for divorce.

Source: Daily Mail, “Not such a Happy Ending: Actress Eliza Coupe’s husband files for divorce after her hit show is also cancelled,” July 2, 2013

Spouses not always on the same page when it comes to divorce

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There is a theory that women fall in love before men. In fact, many movies play on this notion as a female character becomes upset when a man says “thank you” after the woman says “I love you.” While it may be a spark of comedy for sitcoms, but it is more real than one might think.

Not based on gender at all, many couples are not on the same page when it comes to wanting adivorce. In some cases a souse may never want a divorce, so how does someone approach a conversation that they know the other spouse doesn’t want to have or may be unprepared for?

The first thing to think about is saying the words “I want a divorce.” Is there anything causing the trepidation besides having an uncomfortable conversation? The the fear is over safety, don’t have the conversation and raise the concerns with an attorney immediately.

While discussing divorce with an attorney is very important in the above situation, it is more than helpful in any situation. The more information a spouse has about divorce, the better prepared they will be for the conversation too.

When it comes to the conversation itself, two things go a long way. Being respectful and being direct. First off, remember that if the other spouse is either unprepared or unwilling to get a divorce, the news will most likely come as a shock. Skirting the issue won’t help, which is why it is good to be direct and why information from an attorney can help.

Last, understand that the conversation may be an ongoing one. In some instances, a spouse who truly doesn’t want the divorce may never be ready. In this type of situation, the attorney can provide help based on the specific circumstances.

Source: The Huffington Post, “How to Bring up Divorce When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want One,” Alison Heller, June 11, 2013

Litigious divorce can be avoided if you prepare

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Orlando residents are well aware of the national divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent. So many people get divorced these days that it pays (quite literally) to be prepared. That’s why the idea of a prenuptial agreement is no longer taboo when a couple gets married; and it is also why couples who are doing well after they get a divorce were prepared for their split.

This will sound bizarre, but to some people who are entering divorce proceedings, the whole thing is essentially a game. They take pride in “winning” the divorce, more so than they care about the actual aspects of the divorce. For example, if a prized asset is at the center of a dispute between you and your spouse — an asset he or she does not really care about, but you do — they may spur costly (and unnecessary) litigation just to try to “win” that aspect of the divorce. It could also be that this litigation is an attempt to make you cave in on the divorce.

Of course, there are also extremely litigious divorces that have meaning — where property, bank accounts, retirement accounts and numerous other things are on the line. For a spouse who may not be in control of things before the divorce, they need to prepare so that they can be in the best possible position after it.

This means closing any joint accounts that you and your spouse share. Get your own credit cards and accounts so that you can handle everything once the divorce is over. Also, make copies of important documents pertaining to your marriage. It will help you navigate the divorce more smoothly.

Source: USA Today, “Protect your finances while divorcing a bully,” Elizabeth MacBride, June 23, 2013

Chances of divorce may increase with excessive Facebook use

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The internet and social media have done wonders to connect people from all walks of life and from all across the globe. The past 20 years or so of globalization and interconnectivity — spurred by the internet — has been amazing to watch and experience.

Facebook has been at the forefront of changing the way we relate to each other. The social media site says that there are, literally, a billion active users on Facebook every month. So many good things can come from the interconnectivity provided by Facebook; and, yes, there are certainly negative aspects to the site as well (that annoying guy in your news feed always finds unique ways to unknowingly aggravate you).

But why are we talking about Facebook here on a divorce blog? There are two important reasons, and the first involves the social media site and the potential for divorce if you use it too much. The theory comes from a new study that looked at 205 “excessive” Facebook users (the qualifier means they check the site more than once every hour). 79 percent of these Facebook users were involved in a romantic relationship; and the study found that with excessive Facebook use came more troubles with the user’s significant other.

Since such users are more likely to keep tabs on their boyfriend or girlfriend online, “Facebook-induced jealousy,” as the study called it, was more likely. Researchers surmise that such a phenomenon could make divorce more common for married excessive Facebook users.

The other reason Facebook is important to divorce is that, whether you check it excessively or not, the social media site can prove very influential during divorce. Inflammatory or abusive statuses aimed at your soon-to-be-ex can be referenced in family court, which could affect a number of issues, including child custody. Photos and other information can also be used by divorcing spouses, to substantiate certain claims and give credence to why they are asking for certain conditions.

Source: Huffington Post, “Facebook, Divorce Linked In New Study,” June 6, 2013